Disinfection & Sterilization

Basic Principles of Infection Control

  • Always use standard precautions
  • Use personal protective equipment
  • Heat sterilize all reusable patient care items used intraorally
  • Prevent cross-contamination with environmental asepsis


Disinfection and Sterilization of Dental Handpieces

Preparation for Heat Sterilization:

Cleaning is essential for disinfection of contaminated external surfaces of a dental device. MTI Dental Products recommends that all high speed handpieces, low speed handpieces and motors, prophy handpieces, scaler handpieces, scaling tips, nose cones, contra angle attachments and latch heads be cleaned prior to sterilization.

Never ultrasonically clean, wash or immerse these devices in cold sterilant or chemical disinfectants containing alcohol base phenols, chlorines or glutaraldehydes. These disinfection solutions may damage and/or corrode some metals.



These devices should be cleaned using mild liquid disinfectants, premoistened wipes, or commercially available dental handpiece cleaners. A soft-bristle toothbrush or instrument brush can be used to clean external surfaces of handpieces and related attachments. For personal protection, always wear masks, gloves and protective eyewear during infection control procedures. Handpieces and attachments should be operated 30-40 seconds to purge any cleaning solution before sterilization.


Specific Cleaning Instructions for High Speed Handpieces:

  • The high speed turbine/canister should not be removed for cleaning.
  • Fiber optic surfaces can be cleaned using isopropyl alcohol. Do not attempt to clean the fiber optic surfaces with any sharp instruments.


Lubrication Instructions:

MTI Dental produces lubricated and lube-free low speed handpieces and motors. If product requires lubrication we recommend that all high speed handpieces, low speed handpieces and motors, prophy handpieces, scaler handpieces, nose cones, contra angle attachments and latch heads be lubricated before the sterilization cycle.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s lubrication instructions for each handpiece and attachment. Use separate bottles of the lubricant/oil before and after sterilization to prevent cross-contamination.


Lubricating Attachments:

Nose cones, contra angles, latch heads, scaling tips and burs should be detached from motor/handpiece. Lubricate the nose cones, contra angles, and latch heads separately by placing one drop of handpiece oil in the back end of the attachment. Place one drop of handpiece oil into the front opening of the attachment. Run attachment on motor or handpiece for 5-10 seconds to distribute oil.


Lubricating Handpieces:

  • Lubricate high and low speed handpieces and motors in the proper areas only with specialized dental handpiece lubricants (Lynx RiteLube TM or comparable).
  • Only introduce lubricants into the drive air tube of the handpiece/motor connector. Apply lubricant directly into the inlet tube - drive air is the 2nd largest diameter tube of a 4-hole handpiece/motor and the largest diameter tube of 2- or 3-hole handpiece/motor.
  • It is imperative to purge excess lubricant from the handpiece/motor. Connect the device to an air supply and operate for 30-40 seconds to force out excess lubricant. Lubricant remaining on the exterior surface of the handpiece/motor should be wiped away.


Sterilization Instructions:

  • Heat sterilize all reusable instruments and items used intraorally. It is important to follow the manufacturer’sinstructions for cleaning,lubrication, and sterilization proceduresto ensure the effectivenessof the sterilization process andthe longevity of these devices.
  • Pneumatic dental handpieces, motors and related attachments, reusable prophylaxis angles, scaling tips and reusable air/water syringe tips require heat sterilization between patients.
  • MTI Dental Products recommends steam autoclave sterilization of dental handpieces, motors and related attachments. Do not use chemiclave or dry heat sterilization.
  • Nose cones, contra angles, and latch heads should be detached from motor and bagged separately for sterilization.
  • Remove burs and scaling tips before sterilization since it may result in damage and corrosive reaction between different metallic surfaces.
  • Sterilization Instructions for wrapped handpieces and attachments:

Gravity Type Autoclave -

  • Minimum of 15 minutes at 132 °C (270 °F)
  • Minimum of 30 minutes at 121 °C (250 °F)
  • Drying time: 20-30 minutes

Pre-Vacuum Type autoclave -

  • Minimum of 4 minutes at 132 °C (270 °F)
  • Drying time: 20-30 minutes
    • Do not exceed 135 °C (275 °F)
    • Failure to allow proper drying time can lead to internal corrosion and early turbine failure.
    • Allow items to cool before removing from sterilizer.  Items should be at room temperature before patient use.  Never use water or forced air to cool a handpiece, this could lead to cracking and warping of components. 


Asepsis: Any dental device that is connected to the dental office’s water system and is used intraorally should be operated for a minimum of 30 seconds after each patient to discharge water and air.

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